Refusing Eternal Life

“How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wing, but you were not willing!” – Matthew 23:37[1]

homelessYesterday morning, I saw a tattered man standing in the commons at a large, middle-class, Southern Baptist church. Surrounded by affluence but dressed in a dirty t-shirt and shorts, he stood out. I’ve seen this man every Sunday for months; I often wonder if I’m the only one. He never asks anyone for anything, but no one notices him either. They just walk on by.

I felt guilty for ignoring this man so long, guilty of partiality and “dishonoring the poor” (James 2:1-6). So, yesterday morning, I offered him some French toast. A worshipper had kindly brought it for visitors to enjoy before the service, but this man refused it. I said, “It’s French toast. Don’t you want some?” He replied, “I know what it is. No, thank you.” Then he walked away, maybe so no one else would notice him and offer him something. Stunned and hurt, I entered the sanctuary to brood.

prodigal-son luke-15Most people – rich and poor, small and great – are just like this man. Some even attend church. Yet day after day, they live in spiritual poverty, “without God in the world” and “alienated” from life in him (Ephesians 2:12, 4:18). In the name of Jesus Christ, a believer walks up to them and kindly offers them the bread of life to satisfy their hunger, but they refuse it (John 6:35). They’d rather eat the husks of lust, wealth, or fame (Luke 15:15-16). Jesus wants to gather them under his wing in order to shelter them from the storms of life, but they’re not willing.

We can’t help people who don’t want to be helped. We can’t force anyone to receive Jesus Christ against their will either; no one enters the kingdom through “the will of man” (John 1:13). All we can do is give these people to God in prayer, asking him to open their eyes so they’ll be convicted of sin and repent.

Feeding on the husks around me
Till my strength was almost gone
Longed my soul for something better
Only still to hunger on

Hallelujah, I have found him
Whom my soul so long has craved
Jesus satisfies my longings
Through his blood I now am saved

— “Satisfied” (Cyber Hymnal)


[1] New King James Version (NKJV), unless otherwise noted


2 thoughts on “Refusing Eternal Life

  1. Even though he refused your offer, please don’t give up on him. He showed you grace and courtesy by thanking you for your offer. If he returns, continue to speak to him. He is probably suffering from very deep hurt and rejection, and he may take a long time to begin to trust. We need to love people back to life – to health, both physically and spiritually.

    • Thank you for your kindness, but he’s talked to other people since – both men and women. Someone gave him a coat recently. I just couldn’t connect.

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